Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grand Illusion

I do not like having my picture taken.  I do not like pictures of myself.  Primarily it is because I do not like what I see in those pictures . . . that is not me.  Yeah, I know, cameras can only capture what is there.  What is there is not me, but some worn down; old fart with balding hair, a Dunlop over the belt, and lots of gray hair.  That is not me and I do not know how that person keeps showing up in the pictures people take of me.  For the most part I pretty much try to avoid getting my picture taken . . . ask the family and they will tell you that there are not a whole lot of pictures of me floating around.

I also do not like to spend too much time looking in the mirror.  In the grooming phase of my morning routine I do not spend too much time looking at myself.  Outside of shaving and combing my hair, I pretty much ignore the mirror.  The mirror is important for shaving since I do not want to lop off my nose or ears with the razor.  The hair, well, the mirror is becoming less important as I grow balder, but I do like to keep the four or five hairs I still have looking combed.  The mirror is just a tool for reflecting back what it sees . . . which is usually some stranger looking back at me.  What I see in the mirror is not me.  Nope, it is just like that guy who keeps showing up in the pictures—some worn down, graying, slightly over-weight old fart.

For some reason what I see in a picture or mirror does not coincide with what my mind sees.  There is a discrepancy between who I think that I am and who reality is saying that I am.  I like the guy who runs around in the playground of my mind . . . more of a Brad Pitt sort of guy than Don Knotts. This is my “grand illusion” . . . and it keeps me going every day.

At least that is what I see with my mind’s eyes . . . a stud, and I am not talking about a two by four piece of wood.  I see a guy who still feels and hopefully acts young . . . who is confident . . . who is strong . . . has a great sense of humor . . . laughs a lot . . . has sparkling blue eyes . . . is articulate  . . . athletic (at least in my mind) . . . and is a lot of fun to be around.  Sort of how I imagine Brad Pitt being.  I imagine that a lot of how I see myself is helped through popular media, Hollywood, and advertisements.  It is an illusion . . . a grand illusion.

Pictures and mirrors . . . reality . . . say something completely different, but what do they know.  Years ago, many years ago, the rock group Styx had a big hit called The Grand Illusion that dealt with how society creates and sells something that really isn’t any one of us—a grand illusion that either makes us or breaks us within society.  Here is what they had to sing:

Welcome to the Grand illusion
Come on in and see what's happening
Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
The stage is set, the band starts playing
Suddenly your heart is pounding
Wishing secretly you were a star.

But don't be fooled by the radio
The TV or the magazines
They show you photographs of how your life should be
But they're just someone else's fantasy
So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because you never win the game
Just remember that it's a Grand illusion
And deep inside we're all the same.
We're all the same...

So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because your neighbors got it made
Just remember that it's a Grand illusion
And deep inside we're all the same.
We're all the same...

America spells competition, join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on Earth's this spell we're under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are

In all honesty, I do not buy into the grand illusion that is being sold by society.  Nor do I buy into an illusion that I am a Brad Pitt sort of a guy . . . or even Don Knotts.  I try real hard not to buy into any of those illusions that are floating around out there because they are not who I am.  And, yeah, I probably should just bite the bullet and admit that the image in the pictures and mirror really are me . . . but they do not define me as a person created fully and uniquely in the image of God.  Don’t believe that I am created in the image of God?  Well, you better read the beginning of the Book of Genesis.  Yeah, God has a sense of humor.

Image is important . . . especially our self-image.  So you are probably wondering where it is that I get my self-image from . . . where I get this grand illusion that keeps me going every day.  I get it from the relationships that make up my life.  I get it from my family who see me as a spouse, father, and friend.  I get it from my friends who see me as a confidant, ally, and defender.  I get it from my co-workers who see me a friend and person that they can depend upon.  I get it from the congregation that I serve who see me as someone they can depend upon in their lives and journeys of faith.  Through each relationship I see me reflected back, and what I see, I like.  I do not need a picture or mirror to see that . . . I just need a relationship.

None of us should ever buy into the grand illusion because it is just that—a grand illusion.  Instead we should be who we were created to be by God.  That is the one relationship where I get my greatest understanding of who I am . . . with God I am a child of God . . . loved for who I was, who I am, and who I am still striving to be.  God loves me.  What more could any of us need?

The lyrics in The Grand Illusion ask: “. . . we wonder who the hell we are.”  I know who I am . . . I am a child of God, loved and cherished by many, and I continue to learn more and more about who I am each day . . . and it cannot be found in any picture or any mirror.  If that is a grand illusion, then so be it . . . because I am and that is good enough for me and those who love me.

1 comment:

Candace said...

Weird that you wrote this. After Harper I have been struggling with this.